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India and IRRI

IRRI-India's success began with the introduction of high-yielding rice variety IR8 dubbed "miracle rice," which helped save India from a massive famine in the 1960s. IRRI and India have been successfully collaborating for more than five decades. India has been actively involved in IRRI's priority setting, strategic planning, scientific advising, and implementation of research across South Asia. The results of this collaboration have been outstanding and have set an example in international research collaboration.

India began its partnership with IRRI through the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in 1967 when Indian scientists from ICAR's two main rice research centers — the Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI) in Cuttack, now known as National Rice Research Institute (NRRI) and the Directorate of Rice Research (DRR) in Hyderabad, now known as Indian Institute of Rice Research (IIRR)— began regularly visiting IRRI.

In 1974, Director Generals, M.S. Swaminathan and N.C. Brady of ICAR and IRRI, respectively, signed their first Memorandum Of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation in research and training. This paved the way for the two institutions to sign work plans every four years, reviewing the progress of research and identifying opportunities and areas for collaboration.

The synergy of the partnership resulted in advances in developing disease- and insect-resistant varieties suited to various rice environments, developing and releasing hybrid rice varieties bred through government and private sector programs, streamlining rice production practices, and improving postharvest technologies for improved sustainability and productivity. Both institutions trained scientists, conducted socioeconomic research, and provided equitable access to information. From 2009 to 2012, ICAR and IRRI worked together on 37 research projects including two major regional initiatives— Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA), and the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) projects. IRRI-ICAR collaboration has significantly contributed to agriculture development in India. 

IRRI’s contribution to India and its impact:

Contribution :

  • IRRI has developed over 400 improved rice varieties and better farm practices and technologies for enhanced rice productivity in India. 
  • Accelerated climate change research and environmental sustainability, soil and water management.
  • Improved commercial production of hybrid rice in India (3.5 million hectares). The Hybrid Rice Development Consortium currently has 32 members from India.
  • Provided real-time data to insurance providers and policymakers aiding more than 203,000 rice farmers.
  • Stored over 17,000 rice varieties and wild relatives from India in the International Rice Genebank.
  • Trained over 43,000 Indian nationals through MS and PhD scholarships and other short courses.


  • 50% of all High-Yielding variety (HYV) releases were based on IRRI germplasm.
  • One-fourth of overall varietal development program is attributed to IRRI germplasm.
  • Net share in area is 10 % of India’s rice area
  • Net share of IRRI’s germplasm in India’s annual rice production is about 9%, which is worth USD 1.8 bn per year
  • Net contribution to overall yield growth over the past 50 years is 9 %

India's extensive partnership with IRRI involves about 250 institutions all over the country. Under the Global Rice Science Partnership (now The CGIAR Research Program on Rice or RICE), the collaboration between India and IRRI is further expanded and strengthened. Opportunities to widen the focus of partnership with India in upstream and innovative research have opened up and will facilitate the transfer of new technologies to farmers and other stakeholders along the rice value chain. A new regional rice breeding hub- IRRI South Asia Breeding Hub has also been established  within the campus of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), in India and operates in close collaboration with ICAR, ICRISAT, the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation (DAC)Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and other public and private sector institutions. The hub is  helping strengthen the rice breeding programs of rice-growing countries in South Asia .

ICAR and IRRI have developed an exciting and forward-looking research and development agenda for 2017-20, which was drafted in consultation with various institutions in India. Sixteen projects have been formed under this agenda, with a focus on upstream research for crop improvement, future intensive rice systems, and others. In addition, eight new strategic projects have been proposed under RICE. These projects are led by Indian research institutions, with additional funding sought from the government of India.

On 13 November 2017, Narendra Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the IRRI headquarters. This signals the further strengthening of IRRI and India’s collaboration and commitment to eliminate poverty and hunger in the South Asian region. His visit follows the inauguration of the IRRI South Asia Regional Center (ISARC) on 29th of December 2018, in Varanasi, India. ISARC will serve as a hub for rice research and training in South Asia and the SAARC region.

International Rice Research Institute South Asia Regional Centre (ISARC), Varanasi has been established at the campus of the National Seed Research and Training Centre (NSRTC) in Varanasi, through a Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare (DoACFW, Government of India) and IRRI, Philippines. ISARC is the first research center of IRRI to be established outside of its headquarters in Philippines.

The Government of India vide its Gazette notification dated October 4, 2017  recognises IRRI as an international organisation and accorded privileges and immunities (As per UN Privileges and Immunities Act 1947) that are applicable to United Nations (UN) organizations, for all offices and activities of IRRI in India including, for the IRRI South Asia Regional Centre.